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Air France aeroplane at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris
Photograph: roibu /

France is set to ban short-haul domestic flights

The European country will ban domestic flights if the rail alternative takes less than two-and-a-half hours

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

When it comes to cutting down on carbon emissions and slowing global warming, reducing the amount that we fly is vital. Air travel significantly contributes to global warming and, on an individual level, is likely the most significant way most people are damaging the planet.

In order to try and combat unnecessary air travel, France has decided to take action by banning short-haul domestic flights. While the plans were announced earlier this year, they were recently approved by the European Commission – giving them the green light to be implemented in the very near future. 

Under the new scheme, flights will be banned between destinations where there is an existing rail connection that takes less than two-and-a-half hours. To start with, the ban will only affect routes between Paris Orly airport and Lyon, Bordeaux and Nantes, though it’ll also impact connecting flights between those destinations.

France’s ban is the first of its kind in the European Union. It doesn’t yet have a confirmed start date, though it’s expected to begin sometime next year. The list of restricted flight routes could be extended if the country’s rail connections improve between cities such as Marseille and Rennes.

It’s worth mentioning that there’s a fair bit of debate over how far countries are able to go in banning short-haul flights. Greenpeace, for example, has argued that all flights in the EU that have a rail alternative under six hours in length should be banned. 

Whether such a ban would ever go ahead or not, France's initiative is a step in the right direction. Here’s hoping that this is the beginning of a rail-first European travel revolution!

Did you see that you’ll soon be able to use smartphones on planes in Europe?

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